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Monday, 5 September 2011

Major report finds EU countries using prejudice to reject LGBTI asylum claims

Source: VU University and COC Netherlands

European countries regularly reject the asylum applications of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) asylum applicants on the basis of prejudices and stereotypes. Researchers of COC Netherlands (the oldest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organization in the world) and VU University Amsterdam draw this conclusion in the 'Fleeing Homophobia' report, presented at a conference in Amsterdam 5 September.

Sabine Jansen (COC) and Professor Thomas Spijkerboer (VU University Amsterdam) investigated during the past year how European Union Member States deal with asylum applications by LGBTI applicants who fear persecution on account of their sexual orientation or gender identity in their country of origin. The project was made possible by support of the European Commission.

One of the conclusions of the research is that EU Member States regularly reject asylum applications on the basis of prejudices and stereotypes. One example is that asylum seekers are not believed in their assertion of being homosexual if they do not behave in a caricatured feminine manner, or if a woman is not aware which penalty is imposed on lesbian sex in her country, or if asylum applicants do not participate in the lesbian or gay scene in the country of refuge. The credibility of asylum applicants should not be assessed by relying on stereotypes, the researchers say.

Many European countries expect asylum applicants to actively conceal their sexual orientation or gender identity in the country of origin in order to prevent homophobic or transphobic violence. In this way, Europe forces LGBTI individuals to keep hiding. By doing this, European countries support homophobia and transphobia; asylum applicants should not be sent back into the closet, the researchers conclude.

Moreover, not enough recognition is given to the fact that in many countries homosexuality is still a criminal offence. In these cases, LGBTI asylum applicants from such countries should in principle be granted asylum, according to the researchers.

The report's recommendations leads with a general one that:
In the light of Article 3 of Regulation 439/2010 establishing a European Asylum Support Office, the Office should give priority to promoting and coordinating the identification and pooling of good practices regarding the examination of applications of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex asylum applicants.
COC Netherlands Vice-Chair Wouter Neerings said:
"Together with its European partner organizations, COC will put pressure on European authorities to effectively put in place an asylum policy which better protects LGBTI asylum applicants in Europe."

Fleeing Homophobia Report

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